The Italian Cinema in Postwar Era

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1. Factors that influenced the Italian film industry in the postwar era.

According to Gunsberg, the history of the Italian genre cinema was a shifting scene influenced by political and historical as well as cultural and economic factors, which affected both the consumption and production of the film as it developed into a mass medium in Italy during the postwar era. The factors include; the disruptive effects on the industry of two world wars such as American occupation and German; postwar state protectionism in the form of screen quotas and tax rebates aimed at ensuring a distinct proportion of Italian films on the domestic cinema circuit; and fascist strategic and financial underpinning of the industry. In addition to this, there were state and church censorship, a combination that was further enhanced from 1948 by the ruling party Democrazia Cristian (Christian democrats) that came to power as new republic; inducements encouraging US investment in the Italian film industry; the consequential increase in South to North migration arising from the economic boom of 1958-1963 that entailed essential cultural shifts in traditions and value-systems; and as opposed to the Italian national, there was an almost constant diet of US films apart from during the second world war. Moreover, the withdrawal of US investment in the 1970s; the advent of television in 1954 and the consequent fall in cinema audiences as its increasingly widespread utilization affected the exhibition and distribution as well as production of film; the effects on production of a recognition on the part of the industry due change in audience expectations, composition, and reception strategies were among the many factors that influenced the Italian Industry in the Postwar era.  

2. Consequences of Italy shifting from being an exporter of Art films to an exporter of popular genre films.

Notably, Wagstaff observes that micro financial and microeconomic constraints are likely to affect the production side of the Italian industry due to the shift from being an exporter of Art film to an exporter of popular genre film. At the level of domestic and export markets, profits take effect with the most profitable outcomes being realized in cases of vertical integration when distribution, production, and exhibition are managed by the affiliate company, which is rare in Italy. Therefore, the consequences of the shift here were a deficit in the American film imports. This would be in relation to the composition of its films and to popular imported US films as well as the changing size of the export market for Italian cinema as opposed to the domestic market for US films. This is because the popular genres enticed the Italian domestic public deliberately away from American film imports thus Italy replaced the US as the largest market in Europe.

            Since the home market was too small to offer sufficient receipts from the Italian films to cover production costs, maximizing the domestic market for popular genre films was significant towards providing a base for the export market. As a result, the comparatively high cinema attendance figures in Italy’s cinema created a central market for imported French, American, and UK films, a factor that damaged the Italian film industry. Similarly, there was an improvement in the balance between imported Italian films and imported foreign films favoring Italy as opposed to the US in line with the co-production and production of popular genre films. This implies that there was an immense reduction in the number of US films shown in Italy as depicted in the years of the peplum and the beginnings of the spaghetti western. However, the US Hollywood withdrew its investments in the early 1970s marking the beginning of the demise of the golden era of the spaghetti western. Consequently, the export market for the Italian films collapsed because of the withdrawal.

3. Comparison and contrast of different interpretation of Swept Away Cottino-Jones, Ferlita and May, and Bullaro.

Cottino-Jones, Ferlita, and May, and Bullaro express similar concern on Women, desire and Power in the Italian Cinema. They focus on the representation of the responsibilities that women have played in Italian cinema in the 20th

century. They argue that although the role of women is usually limited to their traditional social function as mothers and wives, women are significant characters in the plots of the Italian cinema. They express their concerns with gender relations and especially with those within the family system in which women as mothers and wives are the significant influential factor.

On the contrary, the authors highlight different arguments that spark different ideologies. For instance, Cottino-Jones and Ferlita and May expresses their displeasure in the great masters of Italian Cinema such as Bertolucci, Antonioni, Pasolini, Visconti, De Sica and Fellini for failing to discuss the overall achievements of female characters as film directors rather than aiming at lighting their specific ways of representing female characters in their films. According to Cottino-Jones, female directors tend to be influenced by the same male-oriented beliefs such as Catholicism and patriarchy that have been embedded in the Italian culture for decades. Cottino-Jones concludes that women characters seem to be quite traditional as provided by Italian filmmakers throughout the 20th

century. Ferlita and May note that women tend to be persuaded, or swept away by an unusual passion in the blue sea of August, hence end up adoring the very thing they struggle against for decades.

 Bullaro on the other hand highlight the fact that the director of the cinema documents the battle of the individual versus the dehumanizing and oppressive forces of social institutions that create conflictual political ideology and gender roles that consequently result in a class struggle. He further asserts that capitalism distorts humanity by making as preclude the possibility of respect and equality thereby becoming oppressors of the less fortunate or at the very least, cruel and angry. Interestingly, Bullaro believes that “man in disorder,” an individual who can eliminate the order that all organizations are founded on, is the solution to the society that she condemns. 

4. Definition of Anarcha-feminism and explain how it can be used to interpret Lina Wertmuller’s divisive cinema.

Anarcha-feminism is the ideology among women based on an awareness that overcoming patriarchy is as essential as fighting against capitalism or the state. It fights against patriarchy and for gender equality. The latter expresses the concern about equality, individual freedom, and dignity among members of the female sex. Anarcha-feminism is evident in Wertmuller’s divisive cinema since her work tends to revolve around females in Italy who are victimized by their own political system resulting to her title as a feminist and communist. Despite heavy critics, Wertmuller remains focused on characters who are oppressed and torn between survival and dignity in which they often tend to opt for survival. Despite being didactic, Wertmuller’s films such as ‘Swept Away’ are politically charged featuring characters who are communist, anarchist, and feminist.

August 01, 2023




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Film Analysis

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